Mom is a pecasit. Tyler wrote that down and handed it to me, lips pursed, and eyebrows tightly raised as he was trying not to smile. He and I were being silly and writing goofy notes to each other on a piece of paper. He was six.
“Tyler!” I said after I composed my laughter.
“What?” he was still giggling but looking at me more seriously now. He didn’t realize what he did, or that what he was writing was really three words, and one of them was not so nice. We laughed for days.
Baylee and I are reading Catcher in the Rye as an addition to his homeschool curriculum. The book was banned in some places because of vulgar and sexual content, which is quite mild compared to today’s words and actions in literature, so it made me think about the imaginary power of swearing.
When I was a little kid walking around the neighborhood, I would say all the bad words in the wrong context. It was thrilling to me to rebel like that in such a simple way. As the years moved on, I freely used words even around the boys. They knew not to say them, plus they were desensitized, mostly because Roger was in the marine grunts and every-other-word was profane. The boys just knew not to say them.
Some of my boys swear, others don’t. Sammy, for example, won’t swear in front of me. The rule has always been if it’s not directed my way, and if it’s not around people who may be offended, it’s fine. I never censored the words they could hear or read because I figured it would become more magical and too enthralling if it was forbidden, and they turned out to be open-minded, kind young men.
Recently I made the light decision to not speak with the vulgarity I used to and with a little effort, I changed the way I talk. I still swear, but not as often, and the cool thing is, when I say a bad word now, people pay attention because they’re not used to it. It was not easy to find words to replace the bad words I used to say, but eventually I stopped being lazy, and my speaking and writing became richer. Nana’s S-word was sugar, but when she said the traditional S-word that is not sugar, we all listened. The less we do the shocking thing, the more power it has. Try it.
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